Generation gap in public workforce

By Lilia Guan
The landscape of the Australian workforce is changing as the country’s baby boomers to make way for Generation Y.
Changes to industrial relations and occupational health and safety legislation and the rapid adoption of mobile and remote access technologies will continue to dramatically redefine the face of the Australian workplace over the coming 12 months.
A panel of industry experts in Sydney today warned that employers and human resources professionals need to prepare to deal with the impact which includes employee demands for more flexible terms of engagement, a continuation of the current skills shortage, and the need to manage a growing burden of risk and paperwork.

The panel, which included Entity Solutions, CEO Matthew Franceschini; Sage, managing director Craig Osborne; ComOps, general manager Daniel Sheahan; and moderator, Frost & Sullivan Australian New Zealand, managing director Mark Dougan.

Skill shortages, aging population and technological changes will affect both public and private sectors.
Workplace management cloud service provider’s general manager Daniel Sheahan said the public sector draws staff from the same available pool as industry.
He said as the current public sector workforce retires replacements will be coming from that pool.
Mr Sheahan said the public sector actually has bigger challenges, “simply because of the public scrutiny placed on it”.
“Every initiative and every failure is well reported, and for these reasons the public sector is typically risk adverse in terms of the underlying IT infrastructure that allows mobility,” he said.
“This will have an impact on the strategies that the public sector employs to attract its next generation of talent.”

Professional engagement (contractor management) services – Entity Solutions’ managing director, Matthew Franceschini told Government News Australia’s population of traditional working age (15 – 64) is projected to decline over the next 40 years – to 59 per cent in 2051.

“This will have an impact to both the public and private sectors,” he said.
“The need for organisations to be agile, flexible and progressive in their mindset in order to engage the best people to deliver the best outcomes for their business should not limit to the private organisations.
Mr Franceschini said both public and private sectors’ HR personnel should consider the following four actions; get a handle on the current size and needs of their workforce (now and into the future); understand the roles that need to be filled and the skills required to deliver desired outcomes; think about what the best strategies to attract, engage, manage and retain their workforce are; and plan for a workforce model that will support the organisations’ outcomes/objectives/goals.

Managers within the public sector will also have to deal with a workforce looking to ensure their rights through unions.

Mr Sheahan in his opinion managers within the public sector are typically better equipped with to deal with unions.
While unionism saw a significant decline in Australia from the 80’s through to the current day, the various public sector unions probably declined the least, he said.
“As a result, there tends to be a better acceptance and more experience in dealing with unionised labour,” Mr Sheahan said.
“However, the public service is undergoing enormous politically driven change, and as a result we are seeing the unions more prepared to stand against that change where it impacts negatively on their members.”

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